The first time I ever attempted to set a personal record in weightlifting, I was in high school. It was my senior year, and despite being convinced that I’d hate pumping iron, the class had become a significant form of catharsis for me. So, I did what every self-respecting teenager does, and I instructed my lifting partner to load up the leg press; I was going to see exactly how much weight I could lift on a single press.
She followed my lead, packing on two 45-pound plates at a time until my shaky legs could no longer reach full extension. By some sheer force of will that I’ve never been able to accomplish again, I lifted almost 450 pounds that day — over three times my body weight at the time. After I walked back to the locker room with jellied knees, I changed into the pink floral sundress I’d donned that day, feeling like some kind of powerful goddess for the first time in my life.
That is the exact same feeling I got driving the 2022 Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock.
Full Disclosure: Stellantis brought this blissful, beautiful machine to the Texas Auto Writers Association Spring Roundup, where I had a chance to take it for an abbreviated spin.
What is the Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock, you ask? Let me put it this way: It’s the wheeled version of the feeling you get when you’ve accomplished something solo that you thought would require a helping hand. It’s single-handedly assembling an Ikea bookshelf that’s twice your height. It’s finishing that long road trip and beating the GPS estimated time of arrival. It’s winging a macaroni and cheese recipe that turns out to be the best damn thing you’ve ever eaten. It’s turning up at your high school reunion as the undeniably most successful member of your graduating class.
If you aren’t fluent in Vibe Speak, I’ll put it a different way: The Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock is currently the world’s fastest muscle car, the crown jewel in the Challenger lineup, which was derived from the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. The biggest difference is that the SRT Super Stock has one fewer horsepower than the Demon and doesn’t feature the optional High Octane mode. Otherwise, you can expect a very similar vehicle. If you missed out on your chance to nab a Demon, you’re getting a second try now.
My test drive was, unfortunately, a short one — I took a 90 minute jaunt around the highways and back roads around Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX.
Listen: This is not a madly comfortable car if you’re not racing it. It has a fairly stiff ride, and it catches on potholes or ruts in the road something fierce. It’s a vehicle for highway driving and cold starts, not for regular commuting over a poorly maintained road. I had an absolutely delightful time launching from a stop light and seeing how quickly I could hit the 60 mph speed limit without surpassing it. I didn’t enjoy driving down the ragged 35 mph road that circles TMS. Thankfully, the sheer mind-numbing throb of an angry V8 engine cocoons you in such a state of dumb bliss that even the worst drives are still fun as hell.
You also have a handful of different features to keep things interesting:
- Line Lock: This allows the front brakes to lock independently of the rear brakes, allowing the driver to spin the rear wheels without dragging on the rear brakes. Ideal for drag racing contexts.
- Launch Control: Minimizes wheel spin while managing torque, throttle, and gear settings to enable you to have a quick, clean launch from a dead stop.
- Power Chiller: This uses the air conditioning refrigerant to cool the V8 engine.
- Race Cooldown: This keeps the engine’s cooling fan and coolant running while the engine is shut down to help it come down after hard usage.
- Torque Reserve: Activate this alongside launch control for less lag when jumping off the line.
Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to sample any of these wares, since I was driving on a public road — but many of these features are, interestingly, available in Track Mode, which is oddly geared more toward drag racing than actual track driving.
Dodge, if you’re reading this, please let me give this car a proper test. I will drive all the way to Dallas to pick it up if it means I get to take it down Texas’ 85 mph toll roads on the way home and possibly even to the local drag strip. I’ll behave, I promise.
I hate driving with passengers. I actively despise driving with a chatty passenger, or one who insists upon changing the music, or one who turns down Van Halen to point out something inane. (I still have not forgiven my husband for turning down Top Jimmy in favor of conversing like some sort of personable spouse.)
Inside the Challenger SRT Super Stock, you’ll find a cockpit that cradles the driver and actively discourages passengers from participating in the driving experience. That right-hand seat is for sitting down and shutting the hell up. The infotainment screen is not angled at the passenger. In fact, all the controls are almost shrouded from that right seat. It’s nice. It gives off a strong “don’t even look at me; I’m busy” vibe.
If the interior design wasn’t enough to convey that fact, then the noise of the Challenger will be. Turn it on, and you’re greeted with an absolute growl of an engine that drowns out everything around you and encourages you to turn up the music a little bit louder. The sound system is divine — perhaps not as refined as you’d find in a luxury car of the same price bracket but ideal for turning on Hair Nation and having a ball.
And yes, it’s also good for your sense of self — for your soul. If you need a reminder of your ever-important place on this Earth, drive a Challenger. You can’t be sad when you’re driving a Challenger. You can’t care what other people think when you’re driving a Challenger. It’s just you, your Hemi V8, and the goddesses of the asphalt. You are unstoppable.
The biggest weakness in this vehicle is, perhaps, its space for anyone who is not a driver.
However, I’d like to offer a counterpoint: Fuck your passengers.
No one is sitting in that back seat unless you hate them and want to know what it’s like to see their legs cramp. These seats are for comfortable purse storage only. If I could get rid of the shotgun passenger seat, too, I would.
The trunk, however, is spacious enough for at least two to three bodies, should the need arise.
The infotainment system, too, is a smidge outdated, with a minuscule screen, button-heavy controls, and no real place for your cell phone:
As with the space concern, however, this isn’t really a problem within the context of the vehicle. You are not driving the Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock because you want a tech-heavy family hauler. You are driving it because you like to whimper in sheer delight every time you hit the gas and feel all 807 horsepower in action. You need the ability to listen to music and the ability to navigate, and you will be able to accomplish both things with this screen. Why bother with anything else?
The Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock is not a practical vehicle, and yet it can satisfy your every desire. It is sheer power on wheels that will make your stomach tingle and leave you craving more. It’s not a car for the school pick-up line, though you’d be the baddest mom there with a Hemi under the hood. It’s not a car for grocery shopping, but you could stock the trunk with a pantry full of goodies. It is by no means a commuter, but who wouldn’t want to drive this car at every possible opportunity?
I can understand why some folks wouldn’t like this machine, but I’m not one to turn down the audacious power of American muscle in all its head-turning glory. Yes, I want you to look. I want you to see the woman in heart-shaped sunglasses and a pink jumpsuit behind the wheel. I want you to say, “Damn.” And yes, I want the kind of ego boost that makes me feel like an 807 hp goddess, because the Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock is a car for the girls.